Leadership changes at two largest airports in Canada


Toronto’s Pearson International has turned to a global mega-hub for its future leadership, hiring Deborah Flint away from Los Angeles to chart the course for Canada’s largest airport.

Flint has 24 years experience as an aviation executive, and helped launch $14 billion investments at Los Angeles International, such as a new terminal, new people mover, and new consolidated car rental facility.

Los Angeles is considered one of only two North American mega-hubs, with more than 87 million passengers last year. Mega-hubs are facilities that handle more than 50 million passengers, with a high percentage of connecting and international passengers. Toronto hopes to join their ranks by year’s end.

“In the world of international airports, Toronto Pearson is a rising and notable star,” said Flint, “known for its significant accomplishments on passenger service, growth in passenger traffic, and its leadership in working with both industry and community partners to take a regional perspective on the role a mega-hub airport plays in lifting those around it.”

Perhaps most importantly, Flint also steered the course for a new Intermodal Transport Facility at LAX. Toronto’s leadership has been anxious to have governments buy into their plan, called Union Station West, to turn the airport into an aviation, rail, and transit hub for Southwestern Ontario.

It is a homecoming of sorts for Flint who grew up in nearby Hamilton, Ontario.

“As a Canadian-born airport executive,” she said, “I consider it a privilege to be able to return home to lead this organization and ensure it continues to deliver benefits to all of our stakeholders.”

“Our loss is Toronto’s gain,” said Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti who appointed Flint to her current job in 2015. “But her time in Los Angeles will be remembered for strengthening our work to improve the traveller experience for Angelenos and millions of visitors throughout the world.”

Flint will replace current Toronto CEO Howard Eng when he retires at the end of March after eight years at the helm during a time of of solid passenger growth.

Vancouver International Airport CEO Craig Richmond will step down June 30, 2020 (photo: Brett Ballah).

Toronto is not the only airport with big shoes to fill. Vancouver Airport Authority head Craig Richmond announced this week he will retire at the end of June after seven years at the helm of Canada’s second-busiest airport.

During his tenure, Vancouver was awarded top spot in the coveted Skytrax Awards as North America’s top airport for 10 straight years. The facility also saw significant passenger growth, and Richmond helped oversee the launch of bussing operations at the airport for select international flights, reducing the need to build expensive new gates.

“Craig has led YVR through a period of unprecedented growth all while ensuring that we delivered on our mandate, as a not-for-profit community-based organization, to provide social and economic benefits to the region,” said Annalisa King, Chair, Board of Directors, Vancouver Airport Authority in a statement.

Richmond also helped build bridges with the local Indigenous community, signing the Musqueam Indian Band – YVR Airport Sustainability and Friendship Agreement to provide economic benefits to band members on whose land the airport operates.